Day By Day

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Migration and Development

Alex Glennie summarizes the findings of a new international study of migration and its effects on development [here].

The most important focus of the study was the effect of remittances on the societies from which workers migrated. In many cases remittances from emigrants abroad constitute an important element of the entire national GDP and is far more important than foreign aid and investment. These direct transfers of money from workers abroad to their families have a tremendous impact on recipients. Not only are the recipients of remittances able to upgrade their standard of living, but they are able to invest in activities that will have further positive effects in the future. Households with workers abroad invest more than the average in healthcare and education. They purchase land, open shops, acquire rental properties, and other things that will provide additional income.

The study emphasizes that these positive changes, so significant to the families involved, are in societal terms incremental and cannot substitute for governmental and international interventions to improve infrastructure and the like, but they are nevertheless an important component of development. What is more, the positive effects of remittances benefit not just individuals and their families, but entire communities. Immigration policies in developed countries that restrict labor migration therefore significantly retard development elsewhere.

This is one of the costs of immigration restriction, and it is one of the factors that should be considered in the ongoing political debate in this country. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to do so.

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